Previous entries in this series:
- Get to Know Catcher Prospects
- Get to Know First Base Prospects
- Get to Know Second Base Prospects
- Get to Know Third Base Prospects
Listen, there are dozens of these guys, let’s just get to it.
Names for 2016
Corey Seager, Dodgers
There’s no prospect in the minors with a better combination of fantasy upside and floor than Seager. In fact, his profile is attractive enough that he’s my no.1 overall fantasy prospect for 2016, narrowly edging out Byron Buxton. Seager hit 22 homers between the minors and majors last year and put up a gaudy slash-line in 113 major-league PA. I don’t expect him to hit for a crazy-high average this season, but something in the .270-.280 region sets a reasonable benchmark, and he can challenge for 20 homers while scoring a ton of runs in a good offense. As Craig Goldstein noted when he took Seager at 1-1 in the BP Mock Prospect draft, shortstop has improved as a fantasy position overall, but it still lacks a ton of impact talent. Seager should challenge for a top-10 finish this year and should perennially factor in the top-five discussion when in his prime.
J.P. Crawford, Phillies
In the Phillies Top 10 list for 2016, we gave Crawford a 65 hit grade, 60 run grade, and 50 power grade. He should be up this year, he’ll have favorable contextual factors (at least in terms of ballpark) and he’s demonstrated an approach that suggests he’ll reach base at a high clip in the majors. Does that sound like an asset you could use at shortstop in your dynasty league? I think Crawford’s 2016 impact potential is being oversold a bit—he was underwhelming at Double-A last year and the Phillies have no reason to rush him—but I do think he reaches Philadelphia at some point in 2016 before embracing stardom in 2017. Either way, the hype is justified, and Crawford is another prospect with a very attractive risk/upside profile.
Trea Turner, Nationals
It’s been a rapid ascension through the minors for Turner, who wasn’t even technically a National yet at this point last year and is now on the precipice of starting for Washington’s big-league unit. Turner isn’t going to hit for much power, but if he’s swiping 40 bags and scoring 90 runs, are you really going to care? Probably not, and while the lack of pop is a slight red flag here Turner has the contact ability, speed and smarts to become a three-category fantasy contributor. His floor is as a MI who runs a ton, so even if Turner doesn’t hit his 99th percentile he’s going to be a useful fantasy asset, possibly as soon as May or June.
Tim Anderson, White Sox
The first three prospects on this list are notable for their high floors but relatively high ceilings. Not so with Anderson, who has gaudy speed and contact tools but is no lock to stay at shortstop and whose approach (4.4 percent walk rate) portends a down-in-the-order profile, at least in a saber-minded lineup. Anderson hit .312/.350/.429 in Double-A as a 22-year-old last year, so let’s not harp on the negatives and ignore his obvious upside. But considering he might be a center fielder, might not post good OBPs and might not hit for any power, Anderson is more of a good than great fantasy prospect. He’s made a career out of proving scouts wrong to this point, though, so I hope I’m eating crow when Anderson swipes 35 bags as a shortstop next year.
Orlando Arcia, Brewers
It’s taken me a while to come around on Arcia, but if I’m going to praise bat/speed-only shortstops in Turner and Anderson above, I need to give Arica his due, too. Oswaldo’s brother posted a. 307/.347/.453 line as a 20-year-old in Double-A last year, swiping 25 bags in 33 attempts to boot. He’s a better MLB prospect than a fantasy one because a good portion of his value is tied up in his plus glove, but Arcia could hit .280 with 30 steals in his better years. Expect Arcia to debut in the second half of the season and consider him as a MI option in deeper leagues once he surfaces.
Raul Mondesi, Royals
Speaking of better real-life prospects than fantasy ones, we have Raul, Son of Raul. Mondesi has yet to truly succeed in the mid-minors, but as you’ve probably heard, but’s been insanely young for his level at every stop. The Royals might be tempted to call him up as a second baseman at some point this year, but giving him a full season to marinate in Double-A and Triple-A might be the best thing for Mondesi’s offensive development. The hope here is that he can hit for an ok average and steal 25-plus bases, sort of like the three guys above him on this list, but for Mondesi that’s a ceiling, not a floor.
Daniel Robertson, Rays
Robertson is to the shortstop prospects above him as ziti with Prego is to your grandmother’s cooking, or as Sam Adams is to fresh IPAs, or as Craig Goldstein is to Kevin Goldstein; a serviceable replacement, but unexciting compared to The Real Thing. Robertson has no real strengths or real weaknesses, and while he’s unlikely to stick at shortstop in the long term he might be able to fake it there for now. What we have here is probably a future borderline top-15 second baseman or a future borderline top-20 third baseman but almost certainly not a future top-10 shortstop.
Trevor Story, Rockies
Many were ready to … write off … Story after a 2014 season in which he posted lackluster numbers in Double-A to follow up his so-so 2013 campaign. But Story appeared to … turn the page … in New Britain last year, also performing well in a half-season in Triple-A. Story’s … next chapters … will be determined by his approach and ability to lay off breaking stuff. He never figures to hit for a great average, but if he hits enough to let his decent power play, he could end up as a 15-homer, 15-steal threat somewhere in the infield. Put a player with that ability in Coors and you have a guy who’s interesting even in shallow leagues, though Story is best left as a mid-to-deep-league investment for right now.
Wilmer Difo, Nationals
Bret and Craig turned me on to Difo even before he became more of a national name last year, and after acquainting myself with him more I get the appeal. We gave Difo a 55 hit tool and 70 speed in the Nationals Top 10 list, and while he might move to second base or end up a super utility guy, there’s plenty of value to be found here, especially relative to where he’ll be drafted. In my book, Difo is closer in value to Mondesi than Mondesi is in value to Crawford, for example. See if you can pick him up on the cheap.
Jorge Polanco, Twins
Polanco has never fared very well on prospect lists but has the upper-minors track record, positional value and relevant fantasy tools (hit, speed) to be of some interest for us. In TDGX (20-team, 40-man roster mixed dynasty)-sized leagues he should absolutely be owned, and you can make a case for him as a top-150ish fantasy prospect because of his proximity to the bigs. Unfortunately he’s probably not a shortstop long term, and sliding over to second will add some pressure to an offensive profile that already needs to come close to maxing out in order to work.
Gavin Cecchini, Mets
I listed Cecchini in “We Hardly Knew Ye” last year, and that was clearly a mistake. The then-21-year-old hit .317/.377/.442 in Double-A, firmly entrenching himself in the discussion for Mets shortstop of the future. The problems? Cecchini doesn’t have much in the way of (homerun) power or speed, isn’t a lock to stay at shortstop long-term and faces plenty of competition for playing time, albeit from some uninspiring options. He’s probably just an empty average at shortstop or a utility player, so there’s not a ton to see here for dynasty leaguers.
Names for 2017 and Beyond
Brendan Rodgers, Rockies
Rodgers was the third shortstop taken in the 2015 draft but he’s first in the hearts of dynasty leaguers, in part because of his natural tools and in part because of his projected home field. He’ll probably take longer to reach the majors than the next two shortstops from his class/on this list, but we’re talking potential 60 hit/power from the shortstop position at Coors. If that sounds a bit like 2011-2015 Troy Tulowitzki to you, you’re not super far off, though Tulo is a lofty goal to aspire to for any player. Also, if you think you’re tired of Rodgers/Tulo comps now, enjoy the next 3-5 years!
Dansby Swanson, Braves
The no. 1 overall pick in the real 2015 draft and in the more important 2015 draft, Swanson is very well rounded, should move through the minors fairly quickly and doesn’t appear to have any real weaknesses. His hit tool and speed are ahead of his power, but Swanson could challenge for .300 with 10-plus bombs and 20-plus steals in his prime. Add in that he’s a near-lock to remain at short and there’s plenty to like, even if he lacks the upside of some of the sexier names on this list. Investing in safe assets is always a sound strategy, which sounds like advice someone with the name Dansby Swanson would agree with.
Alex Bregman, Astros
A lot of what pertains to Swanson pertains to Bregman, too; he’s more about all-around competency than he is special in one area, but sometimes being good at everything can make you special. He’s slightly less likely to stay at short than Swanson and he’s a bit slower, too, but you can’t read a report about Bregman with someone praising his makeup, and he has the tools needed to be a potential 15/15 threat from either second or short. He seems like he’ll be in contention for lots of top-10 finishes at whatever position he ends up at, but he probably lacks the upside to ever be a top-five guy.
Franklin Barreto, Athletics
We’ve covered a few guys who are better MLB prospects than fantasy prospects, but Barreto flips that script. Barreto is a hitter first and foremost, possessing above-average bat-to-ball skills and a good eye at the plate. He’s got more power than his frame would suggest, and while he’s likely to fill out and slow down as he ages, he’s got decent wheels right now, too. The dream is that it all comes together and that Barreto can hit .290-plus with 15 homers and steals from shortstop. But even if he has to move to the outfield, you could do use those numbers in any league, even if a positional shift would make Barreto more “interesting” than “special.”
Ozhaino Albies, Braves
From a fantasy perspective, Albies basically has Tim Anderson’s profile but with no power and a much better shot of sticking at shortstop. He’s got plus-plus speed, a natural hit tool and a long way to go, seeing as he just transitioned to full-season ball. The floor (other than washing out completely) is an Elvis Andrus-type player, while the ceiling is a prospect we talk about the way we talk about JP Crawford right now (minus the pop).
Jorge Mateo, Yankees
This is a lazy comparison, to be sure, but there’s a chance Mateo is who we wanted Billy Hamilton to be. Boasting 80 speed—he went 82-for-99 in stolen base chances last year—Mateo should spend most of 2016 in High-A, where he could position himself to make an impact in late 2017. Mateo is a better defensive shortstop than Hamilton but his hit tool is even rawer than Hamilton’s was, so he’s far from a sure thing. Still, if you’re looking for a top-60-ish dynasty prospect who could jump 30 or 40 spots over the course of the year, Mateo is a good choice.
Gleyber Torres, Cubs
Torres has been on the dynasty prospect scene for a while as a high-profile international signing, but he took a big step forward in 2015. The then-18-year-old hit .293/.353/.386 in South Bend, showcasing the plus hit tool that we’ve been waiting to see for a while now. Torres doesn’t have big-time power and he’s not going to move the needle with his legs, but this type of hit tool and shortstop eligibility will make up for a lot. Let’s just hope he can stay at shortstop, then.
Nick Gordon, Twins
So far so good for Gordon, who hit .277/.336/.360 with 25 steals in Cedar Rapids in his first full season. Gordon still has all the tools needed to be a top-10 option at shortstop, though it would be nice to see his bat catch up with his glove at some point this season or next. He’s held serve for now.
Amed Rosario, Mets
Rosario looked pretty punchless in the Florida State League last year, but he was the youngest everyday player there, survived with his bat and took big steps forward with his glove. Rosario isn’t the power-laden infielder some thought he’d be when he signed, but he’s a better bet to stay at short and I still think there’s some pop in his bat. People seem to be down on Rosario overall right now, and I’m taking that as an opportunity to buy low on him where I can. I don’t expect a future star but I do expect a future top-15 shortstop.
Willy Adames, Rays
The good: Adames held his own as a teenager in High-A last season, projects to have a decent hit/power tool combo and possesses the natural tools to be a shortstop. The bad: a .258 average and 27.0 percent strikeout rate in Charlotte last year, a lack of present power, and questions about his ultimate defensive home. Adams could be a shortstop who hits .280 with 15-plus bombs, a utility player who leaves us asking “what if” or any variation in between.
Javier Guerra, Padres
Guerra justifiably skyrocketed up prospect lists this season thanks to a decent bat and surprising power coupled with his plus-plus glove. But it’s truly the glove that makes him such a no-doubt top-100 prospect, and as someone with average to slightly above average offensive tools, he’s just not that interesting for our purposes. That’s doubly true now that he’s likely to call Petco home although, as Guerra just showed up, contextual factors for prospects can change in a heartbeat.
Christian Arroyo, Giants
Arroyo is the anti-Guerra; his glove isn’t much to speak of, but he’s got a plus natural hit tool and … well, that’s mostly it, but in deeper dynasty leagues that’s something. It’s really lazy to compare prospects to the players they might replace/are blocked by, but honestly, there’s a whole lot of Joe Panik in the profile here. Not exciting, but rosterable in leagues with 14-plus teams, even at second base.
Others: Gilbert Lara, MIL; Alex Blandino, CIN; Lucius Fox, SF; Jose Rondon, SD; Edmundo Sosa, STL; Adrian Rondon, TB; Jake Gatewood, MIL; Sergio Alcantara, ARI; Cole Tucker, PIT; Yeyson Yrizarri, TEX; Blake Trahan, CIN; Isan Diaz, MIL; Richie Martin, OAK; Kevin Newman, PIT; Ruddy Giron, SD; Richard Urena, TOR; Mikey White, OAK; your favorite SS prospect who I forgo
We Hardly Knew Ye (Fantasy Value)